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Survey of practices and perceptions regarding feline onychectomy among private practitioners

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  • 1 Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.
  • | 2 Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.
  • | 3 Department of Molecular Biomedical Sciences, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, 27607.
  • | 4 Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE To estimate the proportion of veterinarians working with feline patients in private practices who do or do not perform onychectomy and assess attitudes regarding and practices related to onychectomy in a large population of veterinary practitioners.

DESIGN Anonymous online survey.

SAMPLE 3,441 veterinarians.

PROCEDURES An online survey was provided to members of the Veterinary Information Network from June 18, 2014, through July 9, 2014. Descriptive statistics and frequency distributions for applicable response types were calculated, and Mann-Whitney U tests were conducted to compare responses to onychectomy-related opinion questions between respondents who indicated they did or did not perform the procedure. Not all respondents answered every question.

RESULTS 2,503 of 3,441 (72.7%) survey respondents reported performing onychectomy, and 827 (24.0%) indicated they did not; 1,534 of 2,498 (61.4%) performing the procedure reported a frequency of < 1 onychectomy/month. Most (2,256/3,023 [74.6%]) respondents who performed onychectomy indicated that they recommended nonsurgical alternatives. Surgical techniques and approaches to analgesia varied, with use of a scalpel only (1,046/1,722 [60.7%]) and perioperative administration of injectable opioids (1,933/2,482 [77.9%]) most commonly reported. Responses to opinion questions in regard to the degree of pain associated with onychectomy and recovery; whether declawing is a form of mutilation, is necessary in some cats for behavioral reasons, or is a necessary alternative to euthanasia in some cats; and whether state organizations should support a legislative ban on onychectomy differed significantly between respondents who did and did not perform the procedure.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Onychectomy is a controversial topic, and this was reflected in survey results. In this sample, most veterinarians performing the procedure reported that they did so infrequently, and most offered nonsurgical alternatives to the procedure.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE To estimate the proportion of veterinarians working with feline patients in private practices who do or do not perform onychectomy and assess attitudes regarding and practices related to onychectomy in a large population of veterinary practitioners.

DESIGN Anonymous online survey.

SAMPLE 3,441 veterinarians.

PROCEDURES An online survey was provided to members of the Veterinary Information Network from June 18, 2014, through July 9, 2014. Descriptive statistics and frequency distributions for applicable response types were calculated, and Mann-Whitney U tests were conducted to compare responses to onychectomy-related opinion questions between respondents who indicated they did or did not perform the procedure. Not all respondents answered every question.

RESULTS 2,503 of 3,441 (72.7%) survey respondents reported performing onychectomy, and 827 (24.0%) indicated they did not; 1,534 of 2,498 (61.4%) performing the procedure reported a frequency of < 1 onychectomy/month. Most (2,256/3,023 [74.6%]) respondents who performed onychectomy indicated that they recommended nonsurgical alternatives. Surgical techniques and approaches to analgesia varied, with use of a scalpel only (1,046/1,722 [60.7%]) and perioperative administration of injectable opioids (1,933/2,482 [77.9%]) most commonly reported. Responses to opinion questions in regard to the degree of pain associated with onychectomy and recovery; whether declawing is a form of mutilation, is necessary in some cats for behavioral reasons, or is a necessary alternative to euthanasia in some cats; and whether state organizations should support a legislative ban on onychectomy differed significantly between respondents who did and did not perform the procedure.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Onychectomy is a controversial topic, and this was reflected in survey results. In this sample, most veterinarians performing the procedure reported that they did so infrequently, and most offered nonsurgical alternatives to the procedure.

Contributor Notes

Address correspondence to Dr. Kogan (lori.kogan@colostate.edu).